Back to School: Steps Parents Can Take to Help Children Succeed

by Nicole Youcupicio, Prevention Specialist, Casa Grande Alliance

Parents yearn for their children to become successful adults and lead happy lives. A huge way parents can help their children thrive as adults is by helping them succeed in school. There are a few specific steps parents can take that have been shown to make a positive impact.

Here are tips from our Strong Families Program, an evidence-based curriculum that has been proven to have a positive effect on encouraging school success, reducing youth substance misuse and increasing positive family functioning:1

  • Identify a specific time and place for homework. Having a peaceful, distraction-free study area with supplies handy helps children focus on homework. Having a regular study time helps establish a routine. Homework routines help children focus their attention and energy on the task at hand and will eventually lessen or remove the parent’s constant need to remind their child to do their homework. (Consider making the study area a phone-free zone.)
  • Check their homework and praise their efforts. It’s a good idea to regularly check that homework is completed and that the homework demonstrates an understanding of the lesson. A child who knows they are being monitored is more likely to exhibit good behavior. Checking homework can help identify any areas in which your child is struggling and needs additional help, and also provides an opportunity to praise your child for his or her efforts. Verbal praise and recognition has been shown to encourage children to keep up the good work. Children thrive when they can make their parents proud!
  • Let your child be involved in after-school activities. While some parents see extra-curricular activities as a reward for doing well in school, letting your child get involved in a school-based activity they enjoy can have a very positive influence. Many school activities like sports or band require good grades and good behavior for participation. In addition to the time you spend helping your children be successful, their coaches and activity sponsors will be encouraging them and keeping an eye on their progress.

Another important way to encourage success is to have regular talks about the dangers of substance misuse and underage drinking. Using substances at a young age interrupts the development of the brain and severely impacts ability to focus and desire to do well in school. Given that the average age of first substance use in Pinal County is 13, parents can have a tremendous impact on their children by having these talks early and often.2

While it is never too early to start having these conversations, what you say will need to grow and mature right along with your child.

  • A simple message that substance misuse is bad for you is effective for younger children.
  • At the age of 9, your child is ready for conversations that include why substance misuse can bring harm to body and brain.
  • During the pre-teen and teen years, youth are becoming more independent in their thinking and establishing their own identities.

While you may think your children do not listen, according to the Arizona Youth Survey, 69.5% of kids in Pinal County did not misuse substances because they thought it was harmful and 70.9% said it was because their parents would be disappointed.2

For more information about helping your children succeed, substance misuse prevention, or our Strong Families Program (a free program for youth ages 10 to 14 and their parents) visit the Casa Grande Alliance website at or call 520-836-5022.

1 The Casa Grande Alliance uses Iowa State University’s Strengthening Families 10-14 curriculum.
2 Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, 2018 Arizona Youth Survey, Pinal County